Time to give up giving up?

A Breaffy Man in Castlebar
Time to give up giving up?

My Lenten ‘vows’ are somewhat of a contradiction. I’m not a practicing Catholic yet every Lent I insist on trying to give up a wide range of things.
Maybe my lack of religious fervour is why I rarely last four days, never mind forty. Usually it is sweets, chocolate, desserts, biscuits and crisps I give up. I go cold turkey and expect that once Ash Wednesday arrives, I’ll be able to just press a magic button and, et voila, all the indulgences are tossed to one side.
It pains me to admit that I was much more able for this when I was a child. The promise of humongous Easter Eggs after 40 days of sacrifice kept me going. So did the competitive element in Breaffy NS school. Somehow the teachers there managed to convince us that it wasn’t cool to break your Lenten vows. Someone who did wasn’t seen as bold in a renegade way but bold in the way of an eejit.
I was very competitive in national school. I used to take great pride in being the oldest in my class, not thinking that this could be interpreted as being too stupid for the class above, many of whom were younger than me. When a girl called Michelle Collins arrived in fifth class who was five months older than me, I was consumed with fury that I’d lost such a daft title.
But I wasn’t going to blink when it came to Lenten vows. Of course, then, in Easter week, I would make up for it in style. The Easter Eggs would be one reward. But I’d have so much pocket money saved up that I would go mad in the sweet shop.
Refreshers - both the yellow and pink ones - Frosties, Wham bars, Stingers would all be consumed with haste. Very healthy eating of course and very good for the teeth …
But these years my Lenten vows are made with the best of intentions but the worst of execution. Like the classic episode of Fr Ted where Ted, Jack and Dougal fail abysmally to give up cigarettes, alcohol and rollerblading respectively, I might need to send for my own Sister Imelda to keep me on the straight and narrow.
It was four weeks ago that I started my new healthy eating plan and while there’s been progress, it hasn’t all run smoothly. The temptation to have a few treats after ‘behaving’ for days normally gets the better of me.
So the cold turkey approach is beckoning once more. Gone are the Walkers Crisps and the Snickers and in are the yogurts and the fruit. How long will it last? Well I won’t give anyone permission to shoot me if they see me walking away from a shop in Castlebar with a supply of ‘goodies’. Expectation levels are low. 

Email Edwin at edwinmcgreal@mayonews.ie
Twitter @edmcgreal